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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Maluma in the O2 review: the Colombian star more than demonstrated his power

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(from Redfern)

Maluma is an extremely attractive man. Just ask Donatella Versace, who signed him as the face of her SS 2022 campaign, or maybe J-Lo, who was seen cheating on her in the recent romantic comedy Marry Me, or even one or two of the 28, 3 million subscribers to his YouTube channel. Or you could poll any of the thousands of delusional gamblers at The O2 last night, who spent the night hanging on the Colombian heartthrob’s every word.

Yes, after multiple postponements, the Papi Juancho World Tour has finally arrived in London, making the Medellin-raised singer-actor the first South American male artist to headline The O2. Already a longtime titan of the Latin music world, Maluma, whose real name is Juan Luis Londoño Arias, has become a pop A-lister since his last headlining UK show, thanks in part to collaborations with Madonna. and The Weeknd, in addition to his contributions to Disney Breaks Allure. Last night, the 28-year-old more than demonstrated his star power with a polished stage production that put his sex appeal front and center.

Performing in the round, under a 360° video screen, fortuitously allowing fans to admire him from every angle, Maluma demonstrated a magnetic presence, and not just because he spent the first half of the set burning hot pink. Whether leading the venue in a cappella singing, performing sizzling choreography with his team of bikini-clad dancers, or raising a toast to the Spanish-speaking nations in attendance (with an audience member’s bra slung casually over one shoulder), he kept enraptured sand.

Rounding out the show with their biggest hit, and strongest song, Hawaii, was a solid ensemble of party-ready reggaeton and Latin trap, adorned with impressive projections and pyrotechnics. At the climax of the 2016 hit Cuatro Babies, Maluma left the stage appearing to levitate, while during the only ballad of the night, ADMV, he emerged from the floor and sang wrapped in a white grand piano while being showered with red confetti.

Except for a brief cameo by a backing vocalist to interpret Shakira’s verses in Chantaje, this pianist was the only musician to take the stage, with the rest of his band relegated to the floor of the venue at all times. And yet, even with a full orchestra onstage, he wouldn’t have distracted from the star attraction, thanks to the camera operator for the night.

At the end of Sobrio, Maluma treated one lucky fan to a personalized close-up of that dazzling smile, taking a playful selfie with a phone thrown onstage. In truth, it was a fun moment that felt characteristic of an extremely charismatic and likeable artist.

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